Category Archives: Writing

Fresh Ink Group Presents The Voice of Indie Podcast!

Hey! Did you know Fresh Ink Group publishing produces a weekly live podcast called Voice of Indie? The hosts of the show are me, Beem Weeks, and author and publisher Stephen Geez. Every Wednesday at 8 pm EDT we welcome authors, musicians, and artists into our studio for a full hour of discussions. We also open the phone lines so listeners can call in with their questions and comments.

Past guests have included author and journalist Ronald E. Yates, musicians Ron and Zach Tippin of the prog rock band Widetrack, sci fi author Robert G. Williscroft, and Robert McKenzie, author of The Chair.

This week’s guest is Christian romance author and gospel singer Jeannie Sharpe. Be sure to mark it down on your calendar. And if you miss any show live, you can always find it in the archive!

Past Guests:

Ronald E. Yates

Traci Sanders

Mary Schmidt

Robert McKenzie

Dr. Helen Borel, RN, PhD

Marc Marlow

Robert G. Williscroft

Ron and Zach Tippin (Widetrack)

Short Story Special

Dying for a Kiss (A Short Story)

Dying for a Kiss

 

It’s like one of those stories you’d read about in Ripley’s Believe It or Not. I mean, who ever heard of anybody dying from a kiss? Seriously! But that’s what happened to me—well, except for the dying part. Two weeks in the hospital—that’s the souvenir I brought back from my spring break.

Okay, let me back up to the beginning.

My parents’ hushed words pierce the wall that separates their bedroom from mine. This particular conversation doesn’t warrant status as an argument, though. And believe me, I know what their arguments sound like—lots of yelling, and maybe an ashtray or a bowling trophy gets thrown by Mom. I guess I’d classify this one as just another log of disappointment tossed on the bonfire that engulfs our family—our collective lives.

Dad is a dreamer. The problem is, dreamers make promises they’ll eventually have to break. He’s also the sort of man who’ll spend his last five dollars on scratch-off lottery tickets instead of household necessities, like food, or gas—or our long-planned excursion to Disney World during spring break.

Dad’s the one who sets it in stone over breakfast in our kitchen—Dad, because Mom refuses to play the bad parent anymore.

“Sorry, kids,” he tells me and my sister, Amanda. “We just can’t afford Disney at this time.”

Amanda, being nearly two years older than me, carries a heavier burden of disappointment than I do. She’s had more time to gather her own collection of tales regarding broken promises, cancelled plans, and the jettisoned idea of ever being a normal, well-adjusted family.

“I figured as much,” Amanda mumbles, dismissing herself from the table.

Dad tries to be sincere in his attempt to save spring break. “But that doesn’t mean we can’t go somewhere that’s almost as fun and exciting.”

When Dad speaks of somewhere, it’s usually a state-park campground in some far-flung forest up north.

Amanda hollers from the living room, “Just so you know, Daddy, I hate camping.”

I don’t hate camping—though it doesn’t exactly make my top-ten list of fun things to do.

*      *      *

A little backstory.

My parents met at a Beatles concert back in 1964. Mom claims love at first sight.

Dad, well, he’s been known to dispute her recollections on the subject. He’s fond of saying, “She had the hots for John Lennon, is all. I’m just the booby prize.”

Hippies, they were—and still are, even though it’s 1979 now. They only just recently (as in one year ago) got married—despite the fact that Amanda is almost fourteen and I’m already twelve. And though they’d both been college students when they met, neither has ever collected the degree they once intended to earn.

Mom works at the IGA as a cashier—minimum wage, with practically zero opportunity to advance into a higher tax bracket.

Dad? He’s dabbled in various occupations—sales, electronic repairs (TV’s mostly, maybe a few stereos), welding, landscaping, auto repair. Nothing ever really sticks for him, though. My grandfather (Mom’s dad) refers to my father as professionally unemployable. Granddad still blames him for making a mess of Mom’s life. They don’t speak, Dad and Grandpa.

Dad’s a good guy, though. He means well. He’s just not one for responsibilities.

So, anyway, the folded map of Michigan comes out, spread across the kitchen table. Mom eyes the places circled in red—those previous vacation spots. We’ve been all over the state: Silver Lake Sand Dunes, Traverse City during the cherry festival, Holland for Tulip Time. We even spent a few days on Mackinac Island three summers ago—though we didn’t stay at the Grand Hotel.

“It’s Andrew’s turn to choose,” Mom says, dropping the big decision in my hands.

Hiawatha National Forest had been my first choice the last time my turn came up. But Dad broke his foot, which cancelled our vacation that spring.

“The Upper Peninsula, it is,” Dad says.

Amanda despises me in this moment. “I told you I hate camping.”

*      *      *

Radio songs fill the van once we hit US 27 going north. The Bee Gees squawk about a tragedy twice before we’re even on the road for forty minutes.

“I hate that song,” Amanda complains.

Dad says, “Well, I like it.”

Mom tries to lighten the mood. “I spy with my little eye—”

“Please don’t!” Amanda begs. Without warning, she socks my shoulder, yells, “Slug bug red!”

“Ouch!” And just like that, it’s on. We’ll both of us be battered and bruised by the time we spy the top of the Mackinac Bridge.

“Slug bug green!” Thwack!

“Slug bug blue!” Thwack!

“Slug bug—oh, never mind. That’s not a VW.” Thwack!

“Hey! No fair!”

Blondie sings about her heart of glass and Amanda momentarily abandons our game—just long enough to sing the few lines she actually knows.

Many hours later, I’m the one who spots the top of the Mighty Mack! “I see the bridge,” I say, hoping it’ll irritate Amanda.

But in truth, she doesn’t mind losing this game. It’s not a thing to her anymore. She’ll leave us the day she turns eighteen—or even sooner, if she has her way. Grandpa promised to pay for her college, knowing my parents will never be able to afford it.

Evening spikes the sky with an orange-pink sunset by the time we find a campground inside Hiawatha. Dozens of tents and RV’s occupy the prime camping spots.

“Andrew and I will set up the tent,” Dad says, parking our van on the last vacant lot within sight. “You girls can get dinner ready.”

Kids—loud and rowdy, as Grandpa would say—run from lot to lot, chasing after somebody’s collie, darting across the road without so much as a glance in either direction.

“Too stupid to last long in this world,” Amanda says.

Mom gives her the eye. “They’re just kids, for crying out loud, Mandy.”

*      *      *

“Andy and Mandy,” the girl teases, laughing at our introductions. “That’s cute. Are you two twins or something?”

“Or something,” Amanda says.

Her name is Nora, this girl with short brown hair. Already fourteen—unlike Amanda, who still has another month. The tents across the street are her family’s—it’s their collie running wild.

“Five kids,” Nora says, answering my mother. “I’m the oldest. Three younger brothers and a baby sister.”

“Sounds kind of crowded, that many people in just two small tents,” I observe.

She looks right at me when I speak—like I’m really truly here, standing in front of her.

“You don’t know the half of it,” says Nora. “I asked if I could just stay home, sit out this vacation. That’s not happening anytime soon.”

*      *      *

Blue jean shorts and a red bikini top—that’s what Nora wears the following morning. And a pocket full of salt water taffy—which she gladly shares.

Mom’s not impressed. “Leaves little to the imagination,” she says, regarding Nora’s top.

“But you and Daddy used to skinny dip,” Amanda reminds her. “So how is that better?”

Mom’s hard gaze issues silent threats. Her words aren’t quite as harsh. “Aren’t you kids going boating?”

It’s not really a boat, this thing we rent; it’s more like a canoe—but only plastic. I sit in the rear, my paddle steering us toward the middle of the lake. Amanda has the other paddle, though she’s not really doing anything with it.

Nora sits in the middle—facing me!

I think Amanda is intimidated, not being the oldest for a change.

Nora talks—a lot. But I don’t mind. She tells us all about life back home in Detroit—well, the suburbs, really, a place called Royal Oak. She used to have a boyfriend, but he cheated on her. Her parents separated last year, intending to divorce, but her mom ended up pregnant.

“Amazing how an unborn baby can save a marriage,” Amanda says.

It’s after we bring the canoe in that Nora says, “Wanna go for a walk?”

Only, she’s not talking to Amanda. Amanda is already halfway back to our tent.

We end up in a picnic area near the lake, just me and Nora. She tells me more about herself, her family, what she intends for her future.

“You’re cute,” she says, sitting right beside me on a park bench.

My cheeks get hot, probably bright pink.

And she’s two years older than me, I think, as her lips press against mine.

My first kiss—well, first real kiss.

On her tongue I taste salt water taffy and excitement and all things possible.

What I don’t taste is the meningitis in her saliva.

Amanda intrudes, tells me lunch is being served at our tent.

*      *      *

It strikes without warning, leaving me confused, nauseated. Words tumble from my mouth, though I have no idea what I’m saying.

Mom’s hand finds my forehead. “He’s burning up,” she says. “We need to get this boy to a hospital.”

Only, I don’t hear it that way. What I hear is, “We need to get this boy a pretzel.”

“But I don’t like pretzels,” I mumble.

*      *      *

Two weeks later, I’m back home. It’s a blur, but my parents say I nearly died.

From a kiss!

Is that a Ripley’s story or what?

And what a kiss—totally worth dying for!

Well, almost dying.

© 2019 Beem Weeks

Meet Spotlight Author Karl Morgan @karljmorgan

It is always an honor to host fellow authors here on The Indie SpotToday, it is my pleasure to introduce to you Rave Reviews Book Club’s July Spotlight Author Karl Morgan. Take it away, Karl. . .

Lessons I have learned about the writing process

It is hard, sort of.

For me, writing comes in spurts of inspiration. When the muse is sitting beside me, ideas pour from my mind through my fingers and onto the screen in front of me. At times, I beg my fingers to type as quickly as the thoughts coursing through my cerebral cortex. By the time my muse takes a nap, hours may have passed and I feel wonderful and excited for what comes next. My second sci-fi novel comes to mind. It is entitled The Second Predaxian War. The rough draft for that 60,000 word story was written in four weeks. Those are the good times.

Good times are not that common. Carl Prescott and the Sleeping One is illustrative. While I do not remember how long the rough draft took, six months passed between the day I started and the day I sent it to my editor for review. The book was somewhat longer than the earlier example, but not six times longer. There were other reasons for the longer period, such as my employment situation, working to publish earlier novels, etc.

The only advice I would offer on the process is to not reread your story until the rough draft is complete. The two best days in an author’s life are the publication date and the day the rough draft is complete. On that day, you are an author. You have written a book. Starting over and trying to fix problems is a death knell. You may decide massive rewrites are needed, or worst of all, you may decide the whole book sucks. In effect, you are denying your right to be an author. Do not do that. There is plenty of time, I mean really a lot of time, to fix it once the words “the end” are typed at the bottom of the last page.

Write for the reader, not yourself.

Some time ago, I read a book by a well-known author about the writing process. He warned writers about telling their own story, especially in memoir form. There are two exceptions to that. One, if you are a famous celebrity (film, TV, music, politics), millions will buy your book to learn about your every habit. Two, if you have been through some terrible times due to illness, war, and the like, others in the same position may flock to your story to find solace in their own lives. For the rest of us, we have to entertain our readers. While we will make the story our own by incorporating our beliefs and convictions, the reader must have an incentive to read it. Being a guy, I like fast-paced action stories, which is exactly what I prefer to write as well. In essence, we are screenplay writers, actors, directors, and producers all rolled into one. Write something to make people glad for the experience of turning each page.

Do not give up.

Yes, I have written quite a few stories, and yes, I wish more books were sold. One thing I have learned about myself is that storytelling is my passion. I hope one day to be able to focus on marketing more. That may have to wait until I give up my day job. At my age, that is not too far away. With the online tools now available to writers, all I pay for is editing and cover illustration. That means I am free to do what I love for a long time to come. That pleases me immensely. If you feel the same as I do about writing, please realized how blessed we are to share our words with the world.

 

Expanding the Laws of Physics in Carl Prescott and the Demon Queen

First let me state that I firmly believe the laws of physics. As I have noted before, I am an avid fan of books on cosmology, quantum mechanics, and astrophysics. The ones I read are designed for the regular reader. I once tried to read a book by noted physicist Roger Penrose, but immediately got lost. It turns out that book was a series of his university lectures for post-graduate physics students. Yikes! Small wonder I was overwhelmed.

As I considered the plot for this novel, I realized I needed an over-the-top problem that would require supernatural efforts to avoid. Ultimately, I decided that the Demon Queen would try to destroy the universe in order to get rid of her seemingly uncaring father, Lucifer, and Carl Prescott, the man she had been married to many times, but was not available to her in his current life. If she succeeded with her plan, a new universe would be born where she would be God.

To date, no one has been able to look back beyond the Big Bang, so I had to create my own laws to govern what happened. Perhaps my solution was not realistic, but it is a fantasy after all.

In the Carl Prescott universe (not unlike our own), it is believed space will continue to expand more and more rapidly. Eventually, the galaxies will run out of material to form new stars. All the stars will eventually die, resulting in an almost infinitely large, dark, and lifeless Big Freeze. While that is depressing, we can take comfort knowing that will take many, many billions of years. Also, our sun will die long before that, so none of us will be around to witness it.

In Carl’s universe, when all life is extinguished, God will summon all the matter and energy back into another singularity, and bang, a new universe is formed. This cycle continues as long as God wants it to. Of course, in Carl physics, a new God is in charge of the next universe, which is Sylvia’s plan.

That is the challenge that faces Carl and his friends in his second adventure. To succeed, he will need his friends, along with significant help from God, Death, and Lucifer. Along his journey, he will visit Heaven and Hell as well as the Crossroads of Existence. He will venture into the precedent universe and discover his destiny at the end of the Rope Bridge. Ultimately, he will have to enter the gravity wave to save the world as well as the Demon Queen.

 

CARL PRESCOTT AND THE DEMON QUEEN

Carl Prescott may have saved the world from the Beast, but the duties of the Invisible Hand never end. The story begins when a medieval castle is discovered hidden beneath the Thorndike Institution. While the professors search for clues, our hero is summoned to Hell to meet the demon Sylvia. She once ruled a satanic kingdom in Eastern Europe from that castle, and will do so again.

There is much more to this beautiful woman than evil intentions. To stop her plan, Carl must first understand why she is so focused on him. To learn the truth, he must face God, Satan, and Death. In this nonstop action-packed adventure, he must stand at the Crossroads of Existence and cross the Rope Bridge to meet his destiny.

If he succeeds, life can return to normal. If not, the galaxy and every soul therein will be devoured by a voracious black hole, which even God will be powerless to stop.

 

Author Bio:

Karl Morgan has a lifelong fascination with stories in the science fiction and fantasy genres, whether it was the Tom Swift novels by Victor Appleton he read as a young boy, or television like Lost in Space and Star Trek, and especially films like Star Wars, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. All of those tales put the protagonist in terrible situations where the odds are against them and, yet, somehow they prevail. The reader/viewer is always left with a sense that something greater than ourselves is watching over us.

In his new Carl Prescott young adult fantasy series, the journey continues as our hero faces terrible danger and odds to help his friends and family. At the end, he will learn new things that will change his perspective on life.

Karl lives in the San Diego area with his best, four-legged friend, his toy poodle Chachis.

 

Follow Karl online:

Twitter

Facebook

Website

Welcome to the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! – Jan Sikes @rijanjks

She Dances With a Memory by Jan Sikes

SHE DANCES WITH A MEMORY

 

JAN SIKES

 

Gertrude McNabb placed a gnarled hand on her arthritic back as she bent over to take a chocolate cake from the oven. She inhaled the sweet aroma and put it on a rack to cool.

A black-and-white photograph of a dark-haired man with twinkling eyes sat nearby on the cabinet. “This is for you, Hiram. I didn’t forget it was your birthday. It’s your favorite. I’ll always remember how your face would light up when I baked this special recipe for you.”

Gertrude picked up the framed snapshot, held it against her heart, and shuffled into the living room.

“We might as well make use of the time while I wait for your cake to cool. Then I’ll frost it with your favorite French vanilla icing. The kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids are all going to be here in a couple of hours, and it will be nothing but pure chaos,” she said.

The mahogany stereo cabinet from the 1960s occupied the same spot in the living room that it had since the day Hiram McNabb brought it home as a Christmas surprise. They’d spent many happy days and nights listening to record albums.  Hiram never tried to hide the fact that he adored Rosemary Clooney. But, not Gertrude. For her, it was ol’ Blue Eyes himself that got her blood going.

Oh, the wonderful and countless hours they’d waltzed away across the living room floor to the beautiful music that wafted out of those state-of-the-art stereo speakers.

She adjusted her glasses and thumbed through a stack of record albums. It seemed to take forever nowadays to do even the simplest task. She pulled out a favorite and held it up in front of the photo she’d perched on the coffee table. “Since it’s your birthday, my dear, and such a special occasion, how about Nat King Cole?”

Her fingers, once nimble and efficient, struggled to remove the round disc from its package.

“Remember how this one caught my eye in the record store, but we didn’t buy it?” She chuckled. “And then you brought it home the very next day.” She blew out a sigh.

Once she had the disk secured on the turntable, she took the pins from her silver hair, and it tumbled down her back.

She clicked on the stereo and waited until the tiny red light turned green, then gently placed the needle onto the black groove.

Then with a great flourish, she picked up the photo and held her arms out for her imaginary dance partner.

Even though she hardly moved from the spot where she stood, with her eyes closed, she was transported back in time, back to days of youth when it had been impossible to imagine ever growing old.

“It was fascination, I know, seeing you alone with the moonlight above,” Nat King Cole sang.

A smile graced her lips.

She whispered, “Hiram Edward McNabb, you swept me off my feet the first time I saw you. You were so handsome in your Army uniform. I’ll never forget that night at the county fair. My older brother and sister took me, and since they wanted to stick around for the dance, I got to stay with them.”

She paused and steadied herself.

“You asked me to dance and didn’t let me sit down one time the whole night.” She giggled. “From then on, I knew we were meant to be together. I’d always hated my name, and you agreed that Gertrude sounded like an old lady, so you called me by my middle name. I was your Rose.”

Memories swirled around in her mind. Sweet remembrances of laughter, of falling in love and of daring to live the fullest life imaginable flew by the way scenes from a movie might do.

No, they hadn’t been wealthy, but Hiram made a decent living for them, and they always had what they needed. However, it was his steadfast love for her, for life, and the music they embraced that kept her excited and happy for over sixty years.

As impossible as it seemed, he’d now been gone over two years. Never a day passed that she didn’t carry on a conversation with him. It started with a good morning greeting and ended with a good night declaration of love.

Sometimes, she could swear that he answered her.

The needle reached the end of the record. She set the photo back down and focused her attention on choosing another album.

“Rosie.”

She turned around. “Hiram?”

No one was there. Then she heard it again. Was she going daft?

“Well, I’ve certainly let my imagination get the best of me. I guess that’s what happens to old ladies when they’re alone too long.”

As she reached for her favorite Frank Sinatra album, a hand brushed against hers.

Now she was sure she was losing what little bit of sensibility she had left.

When she was a child, her relatives shared stories about spirit visits from beyond the veil. To her, it was nothing more than hogwash and products of overactive imaginations. After all, what did old folks know?

As hard as it was to admit, she might have been wrong about that, and a little hasty to judge. Perhaps Hiram had shown up to celebrate his birthday.

Whatever it was, she would enjoy it and soak up every moment, even if it wasn’t real. She could make it true in her mind.

With Frank Sinatra crooning a love song, she reached again for the photo but instead, chose to leave it sitting and simply held out her wrinkled and trembling arms.

Her feet moved, and she twirled just like she’d done thousands of times before. She threw back her head and laughed. She was twenty again, as Hiram swept her across the big wooden dance floor inside the SPJST Hall.

Song after song played, and still, they danced, they laughed, and they kissed.

Then the record reached an end and she was met with deafening silence. She opened her eyes, surprised to find that she stood in the same spot where she’d been. She truly had been waltzing and twirling with Hiram.

“I’m tired now, my love.” She moved toward her easy chair. “I just need to rest awhile.”

Perhaps one day before long, she’d be waltzing again with her sweetheart for the remainder of eternity. But for now, she had the memories, and she’d continue to dance with them until that day came.

She reached for the photo and pressed it to her heart.

Her eyes drifted shut, and she smiled.

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again, for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

Jan Sikes RWISA Author Page

Books by Jan Sikes

Jewel by Jan Sikes

Jewel

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VooDoo or Destiny by Jan Sikes

Voodoo or Destiny: You Decide

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A Soldier's Children by Jan Sikes

A Soldier’s Children

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Video

Welcome to the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! – Mary Adler @MAAdlerWrites

Black Notes Beat by Mary Adler

 

 

BLACK NOTES BEAT

I have studied and observed crows for years, and the more I’ve learned about them, the more I admire their complex family and flock relationships. They are intelligent, create and use tools, and they teach their skills to other crows. As Rev. Henry Ward Beecher said, “If men had wings and bore black feathers, few of them would be clever enough to be crows.”

Over the years, I have told my family and friends more than they ever wanted to know about crows. One person said, after hearing the stories I told about them, that she stopped trying to run crows down with her car. (There is so much wrong with that statement, that I don’t know where to begin.)

During the non-nesting period of the year, crows gather at night to roost together, sometimes in flocks of thousands. They are stealthy and take a roundabout way to the roosting place. They have good reason to be wary. For decades, humans have killed them, even dynamiting their roosting places at night.

Like many natural creatures, they are good and bad, depending on your viewpoint, and not everyone appreciates their beauty. But I love to watch them streaming across the sky–one small group after another–as they return from foraging to join the flock. When they are together, those who have found a safe source of food will tell the others where it is. They share, but only within their own flock.

One evening, after watching them move across the sky, I wrote this:

 

Black Notes Beat

Black notes beat

Unfurling dusk

Across the bruising sky.

 

Quarter notes, half notes

Rise and fall.

Whole notes

Rest on treetops.

 

An arpeggio of eighth notes

Silently swirls,

Scribing a nocturne

in the fading light.

 

Softly they spill

to the nighttime roost:

Rustling,

murmuring,

settling,

hushed.

 

Now the still moment,

the last note fading,

No bows, no curtsies,

No fear of reviews.

 

They need no applause to perform their works.

 

Mary Adler

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again, for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

Mary Adler RWISA Author Page

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shadowedbydeath
“SHADOWED BY DEATH”  by Mary Adler
Blurb:

San Francisco, 1944. Sophia Nirenska, a Polish resistance fighter who survived the Warsaw ghetto uprising, finds safety in California until someone tries to kill her. She insists political enemies want to silence her, but homicide detective Oliver Wright, on medical leave from the Marines, believes the motive is more personal. He and his German shepherd, Harley, try to protect Sophia, but she insists on doing things her own way—a dangerous decision.

Oliver guards Sophia as they travel from an Italian cafe in Richmond to communist chicken farmers in Petaluma where her impetuous actions put them both in mortal danger.

When Oliver rescues a girl and her dog who are running for their lives, he discovers the dark secret at the heart of the threat to Sophia, a secret with its roots in Poland. When he does, he is forced to choose between enforcing the law as he knows it and jeopardizing Sophia or accepting a rougher kind of justice.

Shadowed by Death accurately portrays the fears and troubles of the communities of northern California as they bear the burdens of World War II and celebrate the gift of finding family among strangers.

What’s in A Name?

Naming characters might not seem like a major aspect to writing fiction, but it’s one of the most important pieces of the writing puzzle.

Names, when well thought out, convey elements of that character’s personality, region of birth, ethnicity. A memorable name will also stay with your readers—even after they’ve finished reading your book. Names like Han Solo and Luke Skywalker are much more memorable than, say, Dave Johnson and Bill Smith. Over the course of many books and several movies, we have a firm image of Han and Luke. Just hearing those names takes us on a journey into the future, into the deepest reaches of space. Bill and Dave, though part of a famous story, would not be easily recognizable in the name-dropping game of story fandom.

At times, I’ll come up with a name before I even have the story. There’s a personality within the name that just might have a tale that needs telling. I’ve been known to keep lists of names I think merit investigation. This is how a current work-in-progress began. This short story sprang from the idea of a guy named Elvis, who happens to look nothing at all like the King of Rock and Roll. He’s a man who specializes in finding people who don’t want to be found.

I try to choose uncommon names for my characters. Names I’ve used include:

Tanyon Thibbedeaux

Teagon Barton

Nola Patterson (Named after New Orleans, Louisiana)

Addison (Addie) Markley

Lottie Kane

Frank Rydekker

Sullum Cass

DeShay the piano player

Nester

Jobie Pritchett (Named after Job from the Bible)

Richie Tockett

Tristan Chalmers

Officer Tenneman

Chance Zamler

Charlie Woodlick

Avis Atwater

Ricky Kulkrick

Darcy Minzer

Miss Biddlewine

Shasta Cummings

Jessa Leaner

Just speaking certain names aloud will lead our thoughts directly to the story from which they come. Scout and Jem Finch. Atticus Finch. Captain Ahab. Holden Caulfield. Scarlett O’Hara. Harry Potter. Jay Gatsby. Hester Prynne. Nurse Ratched. Delores “Lolita” Haze. Big Brother. Piggy. Names carry weight. Names remind us just how good a story can be.

I’ve written a few short stories where a main character is nameless. This works in certain situations. The point in writing is to have fun with what you are creating. This lends itself to choosing names as well. How do you come up with your character names?

 

Getting to Know Author Larry Landgraf! @riverrmann

Greetings, readers! Today, I am introducing you to Larry Landgraf, author of Tales from the Riverside, The Four Seasons Series, and many other great books. Larry writes in both fiction and non-fiction genres. So, without further ado, here’s Larry. . .

Bio:

 

Larry Landgraf is a rough and tough swamp dweller who lives along the middle Texas Gulf Coast. In seventy years, he has moved two miles to the other end of the same property. He can be found barefoot most of the time. Larry has nearly died so many times, he’s lost count. You’ll find some of the death-defying stories in Tales from the Riverside.

Larry is the father of three grown children who have given him eight grandchildren. Larry divorced in 2008 and brought his new love, Ellen, to the swamp to live in 2016. He teaches her the ways of the swamp while she teaches him more than he ever imagined. For an in depth view into Larry’s life, you won’t want to miss his videos:

 

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLHAl2COVDWFIpDB_B8AkoRp3iiaXaKCaC

 

Larry is on his third career. After college, he began his commercial fishing profession. When that played out, he started his own general contracting business. After a serious on-the-job injury, he turned to writing. He currently has ten very unique, award-winning books on Amazon including four screenplays. Many have said his Four Seasons Series books would make great movies so he took it upon himself to write a screenplay for each. He is optimistic one or more will be made into movies. A Tempest in Texas, based on Into Autumn (book 1 of the series) made finalist in the New York Screenwriting Festival.

 

Amazon review snippets:

 

Tales from the Riverside

 

“Not only does Mr. Landgraf write about the dangers of the swamp, but also shows us its unique beauty.”

 

“The stories are delivered without pretensions or artifice, exactly as you might hear them from Landgraf’s very lips should you visit.”

 

“I felt like I was sitting on Mr. Landgraf’s back porch enjoying a conversation filled with his wit and wisdom.”

 

Four Seasons Series – Into Autumn, Into Spring, Into Winter, and Into Summer

 

“I recommend this series for those who enjoy an end of world scenarios, romance, family, survival skills and human nature.”

 

“I was eager to begin reading “Into Spring” having read and enjoyed the first book in this series so much. There are times when the next book in a series can let me down. This is NOT one of those times.”

 

“Rarely has the first and second book of a new series been so enjoyable, riveting and compelling as Into Autumn and Into Spring.”

 

How to Be a Smart SOB Like Me

 

“The book was rude at times, but I guess that is what it takes to make people change.”

 

“A genial, enjoyable and insightful work by a quite terrific writer.”

 

“If your feelings get hurt easily or you can’t handle the truth very well then do yourself a favor and read the book anyway, it ain’t going to hurt.”

You can find all of Larry’s books on Amazon here:

 

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_2_14?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=larry+landgraf&sprefix=Larry+Landgraf%2Caps%2C806&crid=2SC9416D5H8CY

A Big Welcome to Mary Adler, Spotlight Author for January!

I am truly honored to host the first #RRBC Spotlight Author of 2019. Please welcome writer Mary Adler to The Indie Spot. Take it away, Mary. . .

 

WORKING SMART: PART ONE

 

CHARACTER BIBLE

There are so many things for a writer to worry about when writing a novel. Plot, dialogue, characterization, conflict, style. Do all the characters names start with the same initial? Were Jimmy’s eyes blue or brown?

To make the most of the time spent toiling at the computer, many authors create time-saving aids to make the book building process go more smoothly. I do several things as I write my first draft.

Character Descriptions: I don’t write long backstories for my characters, but I do note their physical characteristics, speech peculiarities, and other specific details about them including their birth dates and affiliations in a character bible. I also pin up photos from magazines when I find someone who looks the way I think my character should look. For example, this is a photo of a model who represents Paola Buonarotti.

And this is a photo of Oliver’s German shepherd, Harley.

I always know what color my characters’ eyes are, who is related to whom, and who hates fish.

It is also useful to keep a record – perhaps in a spreadsheet – of the first time a character appears or is mentioned. It may seem unnecessary, but when you begin revisions and start moving events around in the manuscript, it is helpful to have a record of what happens when and who was where.

Names: For some reason, I am drawn to names that begin with “L”. So, my first book has Luca and Lucy and Louis. To me, they are completely dissimilar names. (I am not so sure that the reader makes that distinction.) As I wrote the second book, I was more careful and kept a tally under the letters of the alphabet. (For their fans, Luca, Lucy, and Louis are still there.)

If you are looking for names that were popular in a given time period, you can find them easily on-line. Mary was the most popular girl’s name from 1800 until 1961. In 2011 it was 112th.  (When I hear the name Mary, I assume the person is of a certain age – like me! According to The Atlantic, modern parents want their children to have names that underline their individuality. Hmmm.)

Follow Mary online:

Twitter – @MAAdlerwrites

Facebook – https://maryadlerwrites.com/

Author Bio:

Mary Adler was an attorney and dean at CWRU School of Medicine. She escaped the ivory tower for the much gentler world of World War II and the adventures of homicide detective Oliver Wright and his German shepherd, Harley. She lives with her family in Sebastopol, California, where she creates garden habitats for birds and bees and butterflies. She is active in dog rescue and does canine scent work with her brilliant dogs — the brains of the team — and loves all things Italian.

Shadowed by Death

Welcome to the WATCH “#RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! #RRBC #RRBCWRW Day 16

The following is a short piece from a work in progress. This is a scene I pulled from my next novel and (hopefully) turned it into a short story.

Nightly Traipsing

By Beem Weeks

There might’ve been a dream. Or maybe not. Violet Glass really couldn’t recall. Probably, though. A dream concerning some stupid boy—or even a girl.

Whatever.

Can’t control what creeps through your sleep.

Her body stirred awake as the blackest part of night splashed its inky resolve across that part of Alabama.

Violet stared at the ceiling, tried like the dickens to recall a face, perhaps a voice—anything belonging to the one responsible for this latest agitation.

Nothing came through, though.

Even dead of night did little to lay low that sticky heat. Old-timers in town swore oaths affirming this, the summer of 1910, to be more oppressive than any other summer since before the war between the states.

Violet eased her body from her bed; the soles of her feet found cool the touch of creaking floorboards.

There’d be nobody to catch her—not at this hour.

Nobody, but Ruthie.

And Ruthie Sender?—she’d never let on of these doings.

Violet scampered through the kitchen, flung her blue-eyed gaze against the darkened parlor. Only shadows and silence bore witness to her planned escape, a girl’s nightly traipsing.

The back door gave up with only minor provocation.

Dripping moonlight splashed the yard with a silvery sheen; promising secrets lingered among the gathered glow.

Around the rear of the house she skulked, careful to hold close to the shadows, to remain hidden from the ones who’d blab, those others who’d hold it over her head for gain.

Back behind the barn she found her crouching spot, fell low to the ground, fixed sight on the direction of Ruthie Sender’s place a few hundred yards away. Traipsing just didn’t hold its fun without Ruthie tagging along.

Violet rushed her granddad’s cotton field without that hesitation she’d known only a summer earlier.

Shadows stirred and wiggled in the distance. Figures formed, made shapes around a low-burning fire. Even at the center of all that cotton, Violet could pick out words of songs sung by the coloreds, those kin to Ruthie Sender.

They sang about standing on wood, an old slave’s saying, drawing up recollections of a time they themselves belonged to someone else.

Belonged to Violet’s kin.

Wood smoke fogged the night air.

Violet hunched low, skirted the yard where those coloreds took up with their fire and song and whiskey. Friendly sorts, all of them. Always first with a kind word, an interest in Violet’s family, how the girl’s folks were getting on—even if that interest leaned toward pretend. But that’s the nature of the matter. It’s Violet’s great-granddad who’d once owned all those souls that gave creation to the very ones now singing and drinking.

She broke through shadows collected beneath an ancient willow tree, found respite behind the Sender family’s privy, and waited for the girl to either show or not show.

The colored girl’s legs appeared first, dangling from the pantry window, bare feet scrabbling at the air, searching for a solid thing to set down upon. The thud of her sudden drop wouldn’t wake anybody.

A dingy gray nightshirt clung to Ruthie’s body. Her dark-eyed gaze landed out where she knew to find Violet. If the girl offered a smile, it couldn’t be seen—not from this distance.

“Go out back of Tussel’s, maybe?” Ruthie asked, finding space in Violet’s shadow.

“Catch a strap across my butt, I get found by that saloon again,” Violet promised. “Daddy don’t say things twice.”

Ruthie said, “Chicken liver.”

Violet backed down a notch, weighed her options. “Who’s gonna be there?”

“Fella named Ferdinand something. Plays piano.” Ruthie tossed a nod toward those others out by the fire. “They won’t share us no whiskey.”

“Won’t share up to Tussel’s, neither—unless you got some money.”

*      *      *

They were born the same night, Violet and Ruthie, back during spring of 1895. Only a few measly hours managed to wedge in between them, separated the girls from being twins of a sort.

Close enough, though.

Ruthie came first—if her folks were to be believed.

“Where we going?” Violet asked, following after Ruthie’s lead.

“Lena Canu’s place,” said Ruthie.

“How come?”

“She got stuff to drink, mostly.”

Droplets of sweat ran relays along Violet’s spine, leaving the girl’s skin wet, clammy. “Awful hot, it is.”

“She a conjure woman,” Ruthie announced, laying her tone low, protected. “—Lena Canu, I mean.”

Midnight’s high ceiling lent sparse light to the path splitting the two properties. Violet’s kin, they’d once owned the entire lot. Her great-granddad, he’s the one took notion to make things right, gave half of his land to the slaves he turned loose after the war.

Ruthie’s kin, mostly.

Senders and Canus.

Couldn’t ever really make a thing like that right, though.

A small cabin squatted in the brush; the orange glow of a lamp shined in the window. Used to be a slave’s shack, this one here.

Moonlight dripped on the colored girl’s face, showed it round and smooth, lips full and perfect, eyes alive with life and mischief. “Gonna see does she have any drink.”

Violet leaned closer, her bare arms feeling the other girl’s heat. She asked, “Can she tell fortunes?”

“Like reading a book.”

That dark door yawned wide; Lena Canu peered into the night. “I’ll tell your fortune, white girl,” she said.

Ruthie gave a nudge, guided Violet up the walk and into the shack.

A table and four chairs congregated at the center of the bare space. Kerosene fed a flame dancing like the devil atop the glass lamp. A pallet in a corner threw in its lot with the scene.

Lena Canu tossed a nod toward her rickety table. “Have you a seat, now,” she ordered, “—both of you.”

Violet sat first. Ruthie found perch across from her friend. Beneath the table naked feet bumped and rubbed, each girl assuring the other this would be a good turn.

“You one of them Glass girls, ain’t you?” Lena asked, dropping onto a chair of her own.

Violet said, “Yes, ma’am.”

Lena waved her off. “Ain’t no ma’am. Call me Lena, is all. You the one runs wild.” A pronouncement rather than a question.

Ruthie asked, “You got any liquor?”

A clear pint bottle came into the moment; its bitter amber liquid promised that sort of burn a person won’t mind.

Each girl drew off a long pull, let the heat mingle with their blood. Neither girl had ever gone full-on drunk; only a swig or two is all they ever dared.

Lena Canu, conjuring woman, spread a pile of bones over the table and commenced to ciphering future happenings a girl might need to know.

Things about boys and marriage didn’t come up. Neither did mention of babies and such. All Violet heard portended mainly to trouble.

“Quit you runnin’ wild,” Lena proclaimed, “and you be just fine.” She took up her narrow gaze again, aimed to settle matters. “But you keep doin’ what you been doin’, things gonna go bad.”

The suddenness of gunfire echoed through that sticky air. Three quick shots chased by a lazy fourth that staggered along a moment later.

Lena jumped first, ran for the door. Ruthie followed after, peering into the dark, no doubt expecting to put a face to the one pulled that trigger.

Violet remained stuck to her chair, attentions tugging between the matters outside and those sayings left to her by that conjuring woman. Did she really believe in such things, or was it all just a mess of nonsense?

“What am I gonna do to make things go bad?” she asked, supposing it wouldn’t hurt to know—just in case.

But Lena had other notions to work over. “Sounds like they come from over to your place,” she said to Ruthie.

Ruthie tipped a nod, said, “Could be they gettin’ liquored up too much, huh?”

“Might could,” answered Lena.

It happens that way, boys and their whiskey, wandering along crooked paths of discontent, blabbing things not really meant for harm—just boasting, is all.

But boasting to a drunken fella is as good as a punch on his nose.

“Gonna go see,” said Ruthie, pushing past the threshold, pressing on toward home.

Violet held her ground, let the colored girl disappear in the night. Attentions ceased their tugging, settled on the one making proclamations concerning bad manners and trouble to come.

Lena came loose of her thoughts, brought one to words, said, “Go on home now, white girl. Nighttime belongs to devils.”

*      *      *

Clouds laid a brief smudge against the moon, stripped its shine right off the night, left Violet to wonder if it really might be footsteps stumbling along behind her, following that same narrow path toward home.

“Fool boys,” she muttered, tossing nervous glances over either shoulder.

Footfalls fell heavy—like boots hammering the earth. An eager thing born of desperation.

Violet bolted left, squatted low behind a pile of brush that had the makings of a snake shelter. She held her breath and waited for the one at her back to pass on by.

A piece of tree limb came to her hand, a long and heavy thing, able to put a soul right should he come at her with wrong intentions.

That smudged moon went shiny again, dripped light across the path, showed off the shape of a man loping toward home. Tall and thin, this one; he moved quick with purpose.

Going the wrong way, though, Violet thought, waiting for the man to pass.

She gained her feet, charged his retreat, swung that heavy piece of wood and caught that interloper straight between his shoulders.

“Jay-zus!” the man hollered, hitting the ground like a sack of potatoes.

“This is private property!” Violet informed him, fixing up for a second swing.

The fella pulled up on his knees, tried to reach for that spot on his back no doubt gone swollen. He said, “It’s private property only ’cause I say so.”

Foolishness seeped into the girl. She squinted against the dark, drew recollection of his face. “Granddad?” she said, hoping her recollections proved wrong.

“What the hell are you doing out here?” he demanded, giving his legs a try.

“Came out to use the privy,” she fibbed. “Heard gunshots, came to see, is all.”

“Liar!” the old man spat. “You been gallivanting again, ain’t you?” He moved closer to the girl, sized her up, made a big fuss over her running around in only a nightshirt and nothing else. “Your daddy’s gonna hit ya where the good Lord split ya—then he’s gonna move you to your sister’s room upstairs. Won’t be no sneaking out from there.”

Her gaze caught that glint at his waistband, a familiar hunk of blued steel. “Don’t matter,” she said. “Daddy’s gonna put you in the county home.”

“On account of what?”

“On account of you’re going senile, traipsing off, bothering colored folks again with that pistol of yours.” Violet leaned closer, continued her spiel. “Heard him and Mama talking just last week, saying how you’re a danger to yourself just as much as to others.”

The old man’s jaw fell open and slammed shut; intended words went lost to the night. He couldn’t tell on her now—not without personal risk.

Defeat fogged his eyes. “I won’t tell your business if you don’t tell mine.”

Violet seized the moment with both hands. “That depends,” she informed him.

“On what?”

“Who’d you shoot tonight?”

“Nobody. Just meant to scare, is all.”

“Gonna kill somebody one day—if you ain’t already.”

“Ain’t in my blood, killin’.”

“Don’t have to mean it to do it.”

The old man pulled back, let frustration have its way. “We got a deal or don’t we?”

“You gonna leave Ruthie’s people be?”

“Just want what’s mine,” he complained.

“But it’s their land, Granddad—been so for forty-five years. A hundred guns ain’t gonna make it not so.”

He never did wear misery well.

Violet’s arms went easily around the man. She pulled close to him, breathed in that familiar odor of sweat and tobacco.

He said, “I won’t bother them no more.”

“Then we have us a deal.”

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

Beem Weeks RWISA Author Page

How would you like to become a RWISA Member so that you’re able to receive this same awesome FREE support? Simply click HERE to make application!

 

 

Welcome to the WATCH “#RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! #RRBC #RRBCWRW Day 15

MOM’S FINAL WORDS

By Gwen M. Plano

Worn out by time, mom lay motionless on the sheets. Life lingered but imperceptibly. At ninety-one, she had experienced the full range of life’s challenges. And, now, she rested her aged shell of a body and waited.

A farmer’s daughter and wife, her life was marked by practicalities and hard work. Always up before daybreak, she prepared the meals, washed the clothes and hung them on the clothesline, and otherwise attended to the needs of the household.

Her garden was a cornucopia of tomatoes and corn, of squash and lettuces. And the refrigerator always had freshly gathered eggs and newly churned butter.

Mom rarely paused, to catch her breath, to offer a hug, or to sit calmly. Time is not to be wasted, she taught. And so, she was always busy.

Over the years, there were multiple times that she almost died. But, with each surgery or ailment, she emerged from death’s clutches more determined than before – to surmount her difficulties, to forge a path, to care for her family. “Life is a gift,” she would say to us.

Mom knew poverty and uncertainty. Ration coupons from the war lay on her dresser, a reminder of harsh realities. Nothing ever went to waste in our household, not food, not water, not clothing. “Many have less than us,” she claimed. She would then insist we be conservative and share.

She knew sorrow well, having lost her parents when she was young, and then two of her nine children. As the years passed, she also lost her sisters and many of her friends.

Mom was a woman of faith. Throughout the day, you could hear her quiet entreaties. Prayer was always on her lips. When mom walked from one room to the next, she prayed – for this person or that friend or for our country. She’d stand at the sink washing dishes and invoke help, from the angels, from Mary the mother of our God, and from the Holy Spirit. “Pray always,” she’d remind us.

This busy mother fought death to the end, but when the doctor finally said that nothing more could be done, she simply responded, “I am ready.”

It was then that she met with each of her seven children. Barely managing each breath, she whispered her I love you and offered a few words of guidance.

When I was at mom’s bedside, she told me she loved me, mentioned a few family concerns, and then in a barely audible voice she said, “I don’t know what to expect.”

This precious little woman, who had spent her life busy with raising a family and helping with the farm, now was unsure of what would happen next. I was surprised by the words.

She taught me to pray when I was quite tiny. “Get on your knees,” she would instruct. “Offer up your pain for the poor souls in purgatory,” she’d suggest. Then, she’d lead us in the Lord’s Prayer. Mom had us pray for family and friends, for anyone suffering, and always for our country. She’d share stories of angels and saints, of miracles and wonders, of midnight visitations and afternoon impressions. This fragile diminutive woman had instructed my siblings and me of the invisible eternal. And, I lived with those images as a child until they became as real to me as the world we see.

Yes, I was surprised by mom’s words to me. “I don’t know what to expect.” But then I wondered, did she know? Did she know that I had studied near-death experiences? That I had written of the dying process? Had I ever told her?

I don’t know what to expect. Simple words, but a storm of thoughts followed. I held back my tears and took her hands in mine.

“Mom, I will tell you what friends have said and what the research has shown. The angels are coming soon, mom. You will see them in the light. Just follow their lead. Your sisters will join you, as will your mom and dad and your babies. Your whole family is waiting for you. It will be a wonderful reunion. There will be much joy.”

Her breaths grew slower.

I told her of Charles, a friend I met in my prayer group. He had died twice and because of that, he had no fear of his final death. Through his experiences, he saw that life continues. He spoke of celestial beings, of extraordinary love, of boundless joy. And, he told the prayer group that he looked forward to death.

I shared these things and more. And, as I spoke, her eyes closed, and her breathing slowed. She had fallen back to sleep, to the middle ground between this world and the next. And I wondered, did she really need to know what to expect or did she want me to remember that life never ends?

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

 

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

Gwen Plano RWISA Author Page

How would you like to become a RWISA Member so that you’re able to receive this same awesome FREE support? Simply click HERE to make application!